Heidi Thomas grew up on a Montana ranch, and now lives in Washington state. She has a Journalism degree from the University of Montana and a two-year certificate in fiction writing from the University of Washington. Heidi has had numerous newspaper and magazine articles published, is a freelance editor for fiction and non-fiction manuscripts, and teaches community classes in memoir and fiction writing. Cowgirl Dreams
, by Treble Heart, is her first novel.
Welcome to Novel Journey, how long did it take you to get published?
I started writing Cowgirl Dreams in 1999 and ten years later I found a publisher who believed in me and the book was published!
Do you think an author is born or made?
I think there’s a little of both. Some writers seem to have an innate sense of words, rhythm, and story. Others can learn, practice, and perfect the craft.
What is the first book you remember reading?
A pre-primer series, “Mac and Muff.”
What common qualities do you find in the personalities of published authors?
A persistent need to see their projects to fruition. That entails a tremendous amount of reading, studying, writing practice, feedback, re-writing and rewriting again and again. Persistence.
How do you know if you have a seemingly “stupid” book premise that is doomed to fail versus one that will fly high?
I don’t think there are any “stupid” premises. I would encourage anyone with an idea to pursue it. Just get it down on paper. It may end up not working as a book, but the experience of writing it gives you a foundation for pursuing the next idea.
What is the theme of your latest book?
The pursuit of a dream. My character is going after her dream of becoming a rodeo star, and having the book published is my dream coming true.
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
I’m not sure I’m there yet. There is always more to learn, and that’s what I love about writing. You never stop learning.
When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?
When I get that it’s “there” feedback from a trusted reader or from a potential agent or publisher.
Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?
I made a trip to Montana and wanted to find the ranch where my grandparents lived when they were first married. The only information I had was that its was “the old Davis Place under the rims” between Cut Bank and Sunburst. I knew it was a long shot, but then it’s a sparsely population area of Montana, so I thought maybe someone would remember. Sure enough, I stopped at a museum, where they directed me to someone who remembered someone else and I ended up visiting with a relative who knew exactly where it was. That was a special experience for me, to see the old house and the flat-rimmed hills that surrounded it.
How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?
It’s a novel that is based on my grandmother who rode steers in Montana rodeos during the 1920s. She was a strong, independent woman who was ahead of her time, knew what she wanted, and went after it. I think we all can identify with that kind of character.